Le Cheile – Gambling Awareness Session
In Le Cheile Mentoring, we had noticed a growing trend in problem gambling amongst some of the young men referred to our service.
Knowing that gambling can potentially have a devastating impact on mental health and potential in life, as well as having a negative ripple effect on families who often feel powerless to help, we wanted to understand a bit more about the issue and we asked Tony O’Reilly from Problem Gambling Ireland to talk to the volunteers.
The training was an eye-opening evening of education and awareness into the complexity of gambling addiction and the growth of online gambling.
Tony shared his own very personal experience of gambling and how his life spiraled out of control because of it. Tony talked about how the inner turmoil and extreme stress caused by the financial impact of gambling led him to a very dark place in his life where he couldn’t see a way out. He explained to our volunteers how people who gamble often withdraw from potential support as they try to gamble their way out of the problem and Tony advised some helpful approaches when working with people who gamble.
Tony’s passion for educating and advocating in the area of problem gambling is clear. His personal story sheds light onto the growing issue and impact of gambling, but also inspires hope in the potential for redemption, recovery and rebuilding.
A valuable, relevant and memorable training for our volunteers!
Helen McCarthy – Le Cheile
Former Client Feedback
Simply put, I could not have overcome my gambling problem without Tony’s help. Most of us with gambling problems, know we have a problem and want to stop. Many of us do stop but unfortunately end up gambling again. Until you confront the why you will never be able to kick it for good. Tony understands what it feels like to be a problem gambler and talks to you with empathy while also encouraging you to challenge your own demons. He understands how the mind works and relays this on an easy to understand, non judgmental fashion. If you are looking for help , he can provide it. He has helped me in more ways than I can put down here.
Hi Tony I just wanted to send you an email letting you know how much I enjoyed your book, I read the whole thing in one sitting, couldn’t put it down! I can relate to a lot of your story, I am a recovering gambling addict, been in GA for 6.5 years and not gambled in 3.5 years and have recently been struggling with gambling thoughts due to depression in the most part, reading your book however has given me renewed strength that I can’t go back down that line again. I attend GA every week without fail and the unity of the room has saved my life. Your book is truly inspirational, the first half about the madness and the second half about the reflection and recovery, I took an immense amount out of it.
Message Recieved on LinkedIn
I would just like to say that your book was absolutely amazing to read…I’m in recovery for gambling for about 3 months now as I’m only 22 years of age and was quiet stubborn towards the thought that I was and am a compulsive gambler. I finished the book within a week it was so gripping and tense as I can relate to the some of the pain, hurt, and actual torture and destruction. Since becoming a member of GA I’ve really seen a happier and greater side to my life and your book has only given me more inspiration and hope to succeed in my recovery. Thanks again I hope you are keeping well and stay safe!!
I worked closely with Tony as I was struggling with a gambling addiction. He was positive, professional and very supportive. Tony gave me the tools to help with my recovery from addiction and I would highly recommend him.
St. Mary’s CBS
On Friday 8th February 2019, Tony O’Reilly visited our school to give a lecture on gambling awareness. Tony himself had struggled seriously with gambling in his past. To start the talk, he explained that he did not intend to deliver to us an anti-gambling message, but rather make us aware as to when gambling can become a dangerous addiction.
Tony then began to tell us his story. He told us that he placed his first ever bet in a Paddy Power bookie’s in 1998. It was a simple £1 pound bet on the result of that year’s World Cup. He won the bet and soon realised, or thought at least, that gambling was an exciting and thrilling way to make mass sums of money. Tony made it clear to us that, though he didn’t realise it at the time, he had begun his downward spiral into gambling addiction.
As the talk progressed Tony shared with us a number of photos of major milestones in his life such as; his wedding and the birth of his child. He explained that all these moments were marred due to the insurmountable amounts of debt he owed as a result of his gambling addiction. Along the course of the lecture there were a number of “ask-the-audience” sections where a question would appear on the board and each student could key in their answers on remotes that Tony had handed out. This was a fun and interactive method of keeping the class engaged throughout.
The more we learned of Tony’s story, the more tragic his situation became. It was obvious that gambling addiction affected every single aspect of his life and he could see no way out. The figures he discussed seemed almost impossible to believe. For example, in 2010 he lost over €10 million through gambling. By the end of that year, Tony’s whole life seemed to have drowned in a deep sea of debt.
Tony revealed to us that he eventually spent 18 months in prison as a direct result of his gambling problems. However, he told us that his time incarcerated changed him for the better and he has since found a new lease of life. Though we all felt great sympathy for Tony, he enlightened us that he has made serious changes in order to live a happier and healthier lifestyle. It truly was a story of redemption at the end of the day.
Tony has since written a book, “Tony10” about his experience with gambling addiction and how it quickly consumed his entire lifestyle. This is a book I would highly recommend reading to anyone who feels they or someone they know has a gambling problem, or if you are simply interested in the topic.
All in all, Tony O’Reilly’s visit and lecture made a huge impact on all of us and we were all struck by how sincere and down-to-earth he was. Despite the hardships that befell Tony, his story is an inspirational one as well as being a cautionary tale.
The indelible links between gambling and sport in today’s world are a surprise to nobody and yet it’s still fairly bracing to see it all laid bare. A chilling, jaw-dropping bruiser of a book.
One of the best non-fiction books of the year
Associate Professor of History at UCD and Author of The Hurlers
I cannot think of a more important book ever written on any aspect of Irish sport.
Reading it has been a transformative experience.
Presentation College Carlow
Tony spoke to all our Transition Year and Fifth Year students on the topic of addiction. His talk was searingly honest, poignant and engaging all the way through. The students benefitted greatly from the personal experience of a local man. It was clear that the students were completely captivated with the topic and the speaker. They asked many genuine questions and were talking about the topic for some time afterwards.
Tony visited the school to meet with our 5th and 6th year students. From the start he developed a good rapport and it was clear the students were in a safe zone with him. The hand held devices that allowed for answering questions provided great insight into student behaviour and attitudes. On the following Monday all students shared that they had learned a lot about the addiction. They also felt they could now recognise signs of addiction in others. Tony’s honest and frank account of the damage his addiction had caused throughout his family was remarkable. I would highly recommend him as a speaker to senior cycle students in any school.
Óige Nua Education
I heard the story of the Postmaster that had gambled 10 million and stole 1.75 million some years back but to hear Tony O’ Reilly’s story face to face is powerful. You could see that our students and staff were amazed at how anyone’s life can unravel with addiction. I admire Tony’s courage and resilience on how he has turned his life around and is now supporting and advocating on addiction. I would recommend any school to use Tony’s story to start a conversation about gambling addiction.
The students really engaged with Tony’s powerful personal story , what seemed like a harmless football bet for him, turned into a serious gambling addiction, a journey that eventually led to him having a turnover of €10m in his Paddy Power account but owing 1.75 million. I found Tony very open and gave an honest account of his addiction struggles. This helped our students to understand addiction and show them the pitfalls of gambling. The talk gave students a platform to work and discuss the issue in an open forum. I believe this is what students and the Irish education system needs by removing the fear of discussing difficult issues.
The Racing Post
A startling illustration of the silent devastation that gambling can inflict
Daithí Ó Sé
A fascinating story
The Sunday World
The Irish Examiner
Shocking, hugely readable and deeply important.
‘A brilliant, nerve-shredding account of one man’s gambling addiction – and every word of it true. Would highly recommend it.
The Irish Independent
This is a spine-tingling tale, beautifully told, and at the end of the rollercoaster ride there’s even a happy ending.
The Sunday Independent
‘As hair-raising as the downfall reads, O’Reilly’s story grips to the end as a context of humanity replaces the sweat-browed hijinks.’
Guidance Counsellor, St Mary’s Academy, CBS, Carlow
As part of our Wellbeing Week, past pupil Tony O’Reilly made a presentation to senior cycle students about his life story detailing his descent into the hell of gambling addiction and the impact that it had on himself, his family and the wider community. Both students and teachers present described the talk as stunning in its rawness and vivid depiction of how an ordinary person’s life utterly changed by the progression from placing a small bet to having an online betting account with a turnover of over 10 million. Despite the bleakness of his gambling, the redemptive nature of the story of how Tony reinvented himself as an Addiction Counsellor and a Motivational Speaker provided a wonderful message of hope and optimism. I have rarely seen such a level of engagement form such a large group of students in my 27 years of teaching. Students described the presentation as the best they had ever attended.